Two local companies that did it right!
By PRETHIBA ESVARY
You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Are the things around you helping you toward success, or are they holding you back? –United States businessman, Clement Stone
Merely copying the famous office concepts of Google, Microsoft or LinkedIn won’t necessarily translate into higher productivity and collaboration among the people in an organisation.
This is because every company has a different culture and, thus, what can support and encourage that culture, would naturally have to be different from the rest.
Leaderonomics had the golden opportunity to go on a tour of two offices – both homegrown companies – that have given a new meaning to innovative workspaces.
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There stands a white sculpture of a little boy on a stool, pointing upwards to the ceiling, in the large meeting room we were in.
We asked chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Macrokiosk Datuk Kenny Goh, why it’s placed there.
He reveals: This piece depicts a little boy telling us that every day, we should look up. We deliberately placed it here next to the projection screen so everyone will look at the screen.
Macrokiosk is a mobile technology enabler that prides itself in “powering connectivity” by providing their customers market access to more than two billion mobile users for interactions, notifications, authentications, security and/or payments.
The company focuses primarily on Enterprise Mobility Solutions (EMS) and Mobile Payment Services (MPS).
In layman’s terms, Kenny says: “Take mobile banking and airline ticketing. These require security features.
This is where we come in. We deliver mobile OTP, mobile QR and console for instance.”
To date, the company has physical operations across Asia and Australia, and over 2,000 clients from 18 different industries in 37 different countries.
Just like the sculpture, upon closer inspection of the office, one will notice plenty of beautiful and meaningful details on the walls and spaces of the Macrokiosk office, located in The Troika, Kuala Lumpur.
Examples include a scrabble wall art which depicts the 12 countries Macrokiosk physically operates in, and surfboards leaning against the walls due to their presence in Australia.
What we were blown away by was the ‘Den’, which gives an otherworldly feeling with two resting pods and several Star Wars decorations, and the ‘Space Bar’ (named after the function on one’s keyboard), its office pantry that has a free daily menu and a section with ‘closed off zone’ capabilities for meetings.
This mode can be engaged by simply sliding an old school yellow garage door.
“As we are business-to-business, this door had been intentionally placed here to commemorate the businesses in the 60s,” Kenny explains.
The company used to operate out of a tiny space in Menara Tan & Tan. When the time came to move, the team sat down to brainstorm what they wanted Macrokiosk to be.
“Since we are a solutions-based company, we thought why don’t we project the philosophy of our products and solutions into our workspace?” Kenny tells us.
If you looked at any area in the office, you’ll notice that it is carefully designed in a way that combines functional, engaging, collaborative, creative, and innovative elements.
The workspace is uniquely designed like a horseshoe, Kenny describes. There isn’t a perfectly square-shaped area in the entire office layout because each area is asymmetrical.
While optimising space may seem like a challenge, Macrokiosk managed to overcome it with the aid of local interior designers.
Another aspect the founders looked at focused on incorporating their family-like culture into the workspace.
“Macrokiosk started with three brothers (Kenny, Henry Goh and CS Goh). We want to enlarge the family.”
He quips (with a laugh): “You may not see uncles and aunties here, but we will become uncles and aunties together. Because we will grow with you.”
The second office we visited is the only company in Asia, and one of the four companies in the world to have won WorldBlu’s Most Democratic Workplace for 10 consecutive years, and is listed as the top resource that HR practitioners ought to be reading to stay ahead.
It comes as no surprise that Mindvalley is quickly becoming recognised in the online education sphere.
The company, which had been incepted in 2003 by CEO Vishen Lakhiani, is also widely revered for their ultra-unique company culture that is known for blurring the lines between work and play.
Vishen’s book, The Code of The Extraordinary Mind, makes a point that our outdated societal dogma and rules are what’s stopping people from living the life they desire.
This is why Vishen and his team believe in practising work-life integration and not work-life balance to drive employee happiness and growth.
Mindvalley is a learning experience company that provides knowledge that “schools neglected to teach”.
Through their various platforms, the company works with top authors, teachers and experts to bring you knowledge about personal growth, health and fitness, spirituality, productivity, mindfulness and such.
To date, the company has three million students, subscribers and followers worldwide.
According to Vishen, the company initially operated out of a ‘shady’ and tiny apartment unit in Times Square, New York. When he was forced to return to Malaysia in 2004, he was faced with two impediments. One, the brain drain issue in Malaysia, and two, all their clients, partners and vendors were in the US.
These pushed Vishen and his team to create a new model.
“By 2020, we want to be the number one place in the world to work. The best company in the world is going to be here in Kuala Lumpur,” Vishen says.
He adds: “Thanks to Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), I was able to get talent from all over the world and I was not restricted to only hiring local Malaysians.”
Having a smart and diverse workforce is one thing, but to motivate and inspire all his employees to work towards a mission to “launch a school of growth and humanity for a billion people” is no easy feat.
To achieve this, the company places a huge emphasis on employee growth and happiness, and this is reflected in their workspace.
“We wanted to give our people a workspace that is so beautiful that they would not want to return to their homes because they enjoy being in the office so much.”
This was exactly how we felt when we walked into the Mindvalley headquarters in KL. The indoor hammocks, meditation room, set-worthy kitchen, tree house, and ‘Jedi council’ room are just a few of the amazing features in this office.
Looking at employees work in the midst of nature-inspired furniture and vibrant colours gives one the impression of “working in a playground”.
Vishen says: “I believe that any job is about a mindset, and, if I want to get the best out of my people, I want them to be in the right frame of mind, something that can only be achieved by putting them in the best space possible.”
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Bringing it all together
Both companies used different elements as a foundation for what makes a great workspace. For Macrokiosk, it is a mirror of their product and solution design philosophy.
Whereas for Mindvalley, it is about encouraging and supporting their employees’ happiness.
What they did right was to look internally and analyse what would inspire and motivate their employees.
Certainly, it is to tell whether an organisation has done it successfully or not from the moment you enter their offices.
What’s interesting to note is that, in being a participant of MDEC’s Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme, it has helped spur the growth of both these companies. How? The GAIN programme provides tailored assistance based on these companies’ specific needs and goals; whether it is elevating brand visibility, facilitating market access, upskilling capabilities, matchmaking for merger and/or acquisition or accessing funding ecosystem. To find out more about the GAIN programme, visit https://mdec.my/msc-malaysia/gain
To further understand the Macrokiosk and Mindvalley business and what makes them both so unique and successful, visit www.macrokiosk.com and www.mindvalley.com
Prethiba is passionate about impacting people through the written word. She believes that our lives are solely written by us, and thus the power to change for the better lies with us.